The sport of wrestling is not for the meek due to its aggressive nature, pinning the will and might of two individuals.
For Asia Quiñones-Evans, a Lorain County Community College student, wrestling was her life. This never changed, even despite losing her eyesight 8 years ago just as she was entering her junior year of high school.
Quiñones-Evans says, “during middle school I was motivated by my father to join a school activity. One day as flyers for different activities were being passed around, I was passed a cheerleading flyer and asked for a wrestling application instead.” At the time she thought wrestling would be more adventures and fulfilling than other common sports.
“It sounded like it would be a very fun sport, a very nice challenge. I’ve always been a person who likes challenges. I didn’t want to do one of the typical sports,” said Quiñones-Evans.
Before she lost her eyesight, Quiñones-Evans wrestled for a year in middle school and a year in junior high. She continued in the sport her freshman and sophomore year of high school as a varsity team member in the 120-pound weight class.
During practice she would wrestle against guys in heavier weight classes. Even at 120-pounds, she was much stronger than she looked.
Just after her sophomore year of high school, she required surgery to remove a surprise brain tumor, a surgery that because of this condition, led to her loss of sight. “I entered my junior year of high school blind, a few months before wrestling season started,” said Quiñones-Evans.
Her surgery would take 6 months of rest, quick recovery back to wrestling impossible. Still, Quiñones-Evans kept up the motivation. “I did not stop. I was barely a week in the hospital, and I was saying hey when can I get back to wrestling.”
As soon as she was well enough to practice, her coaches and team were ecstatic to see her return to the mat. However, after only a few practices, the athletic director at her school prevented her from participating in sports due to her blindness.
She later attended the Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus. She couldn’t wrestle when she arrived but this time her disability was not the reason for prevention.
In her last season of wrestling at the Ohio School For the Blind, Quiñones-Evans recalls one of her favorite experiences of wrestling. “I have more flexibility than most males, and so sometimes I would get into these really weird positions, but still win from those positions,” she said.
“My coach was blind also when I was wrestling blind, and I ended up pinning a guy, but my back was against his chest. I pinned that guy, winning the match and I got off the mat and the coach was like, ‘I’ve never seen that, that was so awesome!”
Last season she assisted with coaching a youth wrestling league at Avon High School and plans to continue this year. Her future goal is to complete her degree and become a wrestling coach similar to her own coach who helped her continue her love of the sport despite the odds.